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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

The imminent, perhaps inevitable, Goodbye

Photo Credit: Frank So

It was only last year, around this time that I wrote my last blog post about leaving, and now it is time for a new one.

I am beginning to think that I should put "saying goodbye" under the skills section of my CV: "Highly experienced in planning departures, skillfully describing the reasons for leaving and refining goodbye-email correspondence to colleagues and staff."

Like other skills, the more often times it is practiced, the better you are at it. And I suppose, I have practiced it many a time now. So these days, my actions are deliberate and the words come out without trembling. However, there is little else but trembling inside me when I am doing it. I have spoken about the competing factors in me, vying for my attention and weighing in on my decisions in life. There is the adventuring traveler who gets antsy after a month in the same country, who hates being inside because there is so much of the city and world to see beyond one's window. The one who reads only travel novels, Where magazines, tourist brochures or like-minded, wanderlusty blogs.

But the other side of me heaves a huge sigh when these decisions are made: "Really? Again you want to move?" I like the feeling of being home (though I have still to define what the elusive notion of "home" means to me and why I so often feel it in places that are not technically my "home"). But I like having an apartment that feels mine. I like to decorate with pictures and travel souvenirs. I like owning an espresso machine and a rice cooker, a closet full of spices and a well-arranged closet of clothes. I have a cat for crying out loud! I am not a gypsy. I don't like living out of a bag. I get exhausted by constant movement. Yet, I seem to constantly move.

So this is the weather storm of turmoil brewing in my head as I have been thinking about, and now have made, the decision to leave. 372 days after moving to D.C. I will be moving out. Of course, this has renewed my vigor for squeezing out the last drops of this city's vat of treasures, for rounding out my list, and for making an even greater effort to soak in my time here especially with the new friends I have made, without which this city would have felt a whole lot emptier. As with any move, it is always the people I miss the most. And I will indeed miss you friends.

P.S. A future blog post will be about my next move which will reflect the proper excitement for my next step (which is in fact exciting!). But for now, please indulge me with a temporary reflectiveness and a hint of remorse.